Last month I went to Italy. The new iPad was released on the day that I left. I can't think of a better way to put the device through its paces. Initially I had planned on taking my Macbook with me to Rome. I love photography and enjoy editing and sharing my pictures as much as taking them. In the past the laptop has been essential in this workflow. Aperture is my camera's software companion and it does a fantastic job cropping and the composition adjustment of my amateur photos.
About a week before my trip I told my girlfriend, Hana, that I planned on bringing the laptop. It was right around then that we began researching safety, and it was looking like carrying around a Macbook Pro might not be the best idea. She recommended I not bring it and to be honest, the idea worried me.
For starters, backing up my pictures along the way was a concern. If our stuff was stolen, my camera broke or the SD card in it was fried, I didn't want to be up a creek. I also wanted to post to this site along the way, sharing pictures and the sort.
So I had this list of pros and cons. At the end of the day I sided with Hana and left the Macbook at home. One factor making this easier was the release of the new iPad (3rd Gen). From a weight and value prospective, bringing an iPad made much more sense than bringing a laptop.
So what was in my backpack if I didn't take a Mac? I brought the 32 GB iPad along with iPhoto, the camera connector kit and an Apple Keyboard complete with Incase Origami Workstation. This turned out to be the perfect setup for backpacking. Throughout Italy we found cafe's and restaurants that had free WiFi. While the hotels had sketchy wireless at best, these little shops provided all the internet we needed. Taking an iPad out is much less pretentious and gaudy than taking out a huge laptop and the process felt almost natural.
So we'd spend the day taking photos throughout the city. In the afternoon we'd stop at a cafe to grab an espresso and pull the pictures off of our cameras. Normally, while transferring to my laptop, I would delete photos once completed. But since I planned on transferring them to another computer when I got home I skipped this step. After the transfer completed I'd touch the pictures up; making the necessary crops and adjustments.
The biggest surprise to me was how impressive iPhoto on the iPad is. It's quick and comprehensive, giving me all the tools I need for on-the-fly touch ups. All this and it has a beautiful way to share photos built right in. Instead of posting new photos on Flickr and emailing my family the links daily like I was planning, I created a journal in iPhoto, updating it each day. My family was able to check it at their convince and see all the pictures I had taken and at the end of the trip I had a fantastic photo journal to help me remember everything.
All of this only covers what I did in the realm of photography. The truth is, having a portable, fully connected device with me at all times changed many aspects of the trip. I was able to book and cancel hotels on the fly, look up train schedules and find great places to eat on Yelp. iMessage was a lifesaver; I didn't have a phone, so being able to iMessage my family to let them know I was safe and having fun turned out to be indispensable. We even had the opportunity to Facetime while in Rome.
I can't believe how useful having an iPad while traveling like this was. In the future bringing a laptop will be out of the question. At home the iPad plays a crucial role in content consumption. It's how I read books, newspapers, magazines and blogs. It's my favorite way to check Twitter. On the road, with tools introduced with the new iPad, it's a content creation machine.
My mobile workflow was liberating.